If you’ve been in Houston for some time, you have probably noticed the inner circle of teenage prep school students driving around Bellaire and River Oaks in their Jeeps and trucks with Episcopal Lacrosse or St. John’s stickers emblazoned across the back. And I was, until fairly recently, one of them, as a member of the Episcopal High School class of 2014.
Construction has begun on updating both campuses in a frenzy to improve facilities, expanding, revamping and renewing their status as the “best,” justifying their price for education at these “mini-universities” and their enviable facilities. Both schools are doing major construction on their athletic facilities, emphasizing the athletic rivalry that has existed for some time, especially with high school football. For St. John’s, field development plans are a major aspect of the new construction. There will be new multipurpose practice fields on the Taub campus, a relocation of the baseball field to the southwest corner of the property and a re-turfing of the Finnegan field which is used for field hockey. While athletics aren’t everything in these schools, the Texas stereotype of Friday night football and strong sports as well as academics is a huge draw for students all over the city. To play a varsity sport, go to a school with prestige, as well as making the honor roll every year, is every parent’s dream. These institutions have to deliver.
Along with the focus on athletic expansion, St. John’s is updating their Fine Arts programs. Their dance program has doubled in participation and the need for a new, larger dance space to hold over 300 people is needed. Revamping their dance and theater spaces is necessary to compete as well, since both St. John’s and Episcopal strive to provide a holistic high school experience, especially when kids are looking to be well-rounded in applying for college. Competition is key.
Episcopal is currently in the middle of multiple stages of growth in a larger master plan since building the Trotter Academic Building. They have now begun a construction on a new Athletic Center with a new field house with indoor courts, a fitness center, locker and team rooms, wrestling and cheerleading rooms, and more.
While these two academic, athletic and artistic powerhouses are their own unique school experiences, with different things to offer for different students, it is hard to deny the competitive relationship that underlies their new construction expansions. As a graduate of EHS, of course I am a little biased about which expansion will be the best in the long run, but I’m excited to see what these schools can do, and what kind of communities they’ll foster in Houston.
Inspiring students through new construction and competition between schools allows students to thrive. Regardless of which opinion you hold for either school (Go, Knights!), a passerby can admit that their impressive constructions hold impressive students